SO the controversy continues.
After reports of more than 500 dogs and nine cats allegedly dying in the U.S. from eating jerky treats made in China, retailers selling the products have issued a voluntary recall of several popular brands.
This is nothing new. I think it was about 12 years ago when food tainted with melamine from China was recalled due to the deaths of pet dogs and cats.
Yet the problem still continues.
It's clear to me that regulations regarding the manufacturing of pet food and treats have not changed much in more than a decade. Pets are still dying.
Who do we blame for this? The paper chain that continues to point fingers at one another regarding this issue is just as long as the years gone by.
No one wants to be the fall guy when it comes to taking responsibility for what goes into our dogs' food, yet everyone wants to cash in on the multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry.
It's such as shame that our beloved pets are the victims of clever marketing and greed.
It's a shame because the majority of dog owners read the labels on the front of the dog food or treat bags and actually believe the eye-catching marketing hype. They turn over the bag, see some recognizable ingredients, and blindly trust the product is safe and assume it must be healthy.
How can you blame the dog owner when it seems unfathomable that a company would sell a product that would hurt the four-legged creature who holds our heart so dear?
The average dog owner knows nothing about canine nutrition and places 100 per cent trust in the product they purchase off the shelf. I'm sure many are sitting there baffled, wondering what they can feed their dog if it isn't "dog food" from a bag bought at a store.
Some begin to educate themselves and, when they do, they begin to question the ingredients in commercial dog food and treats and consider other feeding options such as a raw meat diet for dogs. Then they are bombarded with negativity from another source they trust: the veterinarian.
Granted, there are many veterinarians who are coming on board regarding the raw food diet, thank God! But there are still many who choose to stay put regarding their beliefs about it.
So the dog owner, uneducated and unguided, is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
"How on earth do I feed my dog?" they ask themselves. "Who do I trust?"
I urge all dog and cat owners to educate themselves further on canine and feline nutrition from an unbiased source. Upon doing so, you should form your own unbiased opinion about the best way to feed your pet.
I am an advocate for raw food, yet I also feed my dogs an extremely high-quality, and expensive, commercial food on occasion. That occasion usually revolves around convenience as my life, like everyone's, gets quite busy at times.
There are very good and reliable types of commercial dog food out there made with healthy ingredients by small, local companies in Canada. You just have to pay a bit more for it.
Upon educating yourself, you will also grow a deeper appreciation for your dog's overall health and begin to take a more active role in it.
You will look beyond the glitzy commercials that make ridiculous claims about your dog's health and well-being.
You will notice familiar corporate names on the back of dog food and treat bags and realize that the same company that makes the cheap food also makes the ones with the bold, flashy claims.
It will make you think and make better choices.
It's time to end the controversy about dog food - with self-education - and finally do what is best for your beloved pet, based on your own beliefs.
Joan has been working with dogs for more than 15 years in obedience, tracking and behavioural rehabilitation. Contact her at k9kinship.com.